Sign up for CNN’s Wonder Theory science newsletter. Explore the universe with news about fascinating discoveries, scientific advances and more.
The Artemis I mission, which was supposed to send an uncrewed spacecraft on a test mission around the moon, was delayed once again due to NASA’s Space Launch System’s confrontation with Tropical Storm Nicole. turn into a hurricane before hitting Florida’s East Coast.
NASA said Tuesday evening that the space agency was targeting November 14 for its third launch attempt, but is now looking to November 16, “safe conditions for workers to return to work and inspections are expected once the storm has passed.” . November 16 will offer a two-hour launch window that opens at 1:04 ET.
CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller noted that the rocket, often referred to as the SLS, sits on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, just north of where the storm center is expected to land. This means that the region can expect some of the strongest winds the system will bring.
According to Miller, if 75 miles per hour (120 km/h) is a Category 1 hurricane, as predicted, winds can range from 80 to 90 miles per hour (130 to 145 km/h). This could mean that the rocket will be battered by winds higher than the predetermined limits the rocket can withstand. Officials said the SLS was designed to withstand winds of up to 85 miles per hour (137 km/h).
“In addition, the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Florida, estimated maximum windstorms occurring early Thursday morning at 86 miles per hour,” Miller said. “So yes, it’s definitely possible for wind gusts to cross that threshold.”
The National Hurricane Center’s latest report also gives Cocoa Beach, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of the launch site, a 15% chance to withstand sustained hurricane-force winds.
However, NASA officials said in a statement that “forecasts estimate that the biggest risks to the pad are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design.”
“The rocket was designed to withstand heavy rains on the launch pad, and the spacecraft hatches were secured to prevent water ingress,” the statement said.
The space agency decided to send the SLS rocket to the launch pad last week while the storm was still raging. An anonymous system that originated off the East Coast. At the time, officials expected this storm to bring high winds of around 25 knots (29 miles per hour) and up to 40 knots (46 miles per hour). What the rocket can withstand, according to comments from Mark Burger, a launch weatherman with the US The Space Force’s 45th Air Squadron at a NASA press conference on Nov.
“The National Hurricane Center only has a 30% chance of being a named storm,” Burger said in a statement last Thursday. “However, that being said, the models are very consistent in developing some kind of low pressure.”
But the storm turned into a named system Monday, three days after the rocket launched onto the launch pad.
The strength of the storm is unusual, as Nicole is expected to be the first hurricane to hit the United States in nearly 40 years, in November.
To prepare for the storm, NASA said its teams had shut down the Orion spacecraft atop the SLS rocket, as well as the rocket’s side boosters and other components.
“Engineers also placed a hard cover over the launch arrest system window, retracted and fixed the crew access handle on the mobile launcher, and configured the environmental control system settings on the spacecraft and rocket elements,” according to the statement. “Teams are also securing nearby equipment and conducting walks for possible debris in the area.”
Kennedy Space Center announced on Twitter to feed On Tuesday, “HURICON III continues to prepare for the upcoming storm by taking precautionary measures in all of our programs, operations and workforce ahead of the storm.”
HURICON III preparations include “securing facilities, property and equipment” as well as deploying a rescue team, a staff member who will be on site to assess any damage.
The SLS rocket had been in hiding for weeks after problems with fuel leaks hampered its first two launch attempts. Hurricane Ian has passed Florida forced the rocket to evacuate its launch pad in September.
NASA officials returned the rocket to the launch pad last week To work on a third launch attempt on 14 November. It is unclear how the storm will affect these plans.
The overall goal of NASA’s Artemis program is to return humans to the moon for the first time in half a century. And the Artemis I mission, expected to be the first of many, will lay the groundwork by testing the rocket, spacecraft, and all of its subsystems to make sure they are safe enough for astronauts to fly to the moon and return.